I am a yoga teacher pontificating about gym routines. It’s true.
In my role as a physical therapist, however, I see many patients who have overdone it in their work-outs.
Many of my dear yoga students also go to they gym, so I offer this of service to your health and well being and a lifetime of presence in your body.
Three Workout Moves to Avoid:
1) Crunches: Crunches are unnecessary and likely dangerous.
Here’s why: During a crunch, especially if not times exquisitely with breath (if you are working hard, you know it’s not always possible to do this!), the increased intra-abdominal pressure can lead to weakening of the structures (ligaments) that hold your intervertebral discs in place. The result? Herniated or bulging disc, worn down degenerated discs = pressure on nerves, leading to pain, tightening of musculature or sharp sensations down one or both legs.
Strengthening rectus abdominus (6 pack muscle) has very little functional use in real life. However, if strengthened and not stretched, tight rectus abdominus can limit breath, contribute to hunched posture, forward head, neck pain and more.
Alternative core strengthening ideas: plank, forearm plank, side plank, cognition of your core in standing yoga poses, most pilates (not the roll-up), lateral stretches with lengthening, supine leg lowering (slowly) to 45 degrees keeping navel in.
2) Repetitive push-ups (particularly without variation)
This is a thing that people do.
I’ve known a number of proud patients who tell me their workout is 100 push-ups (or sit-ups or pull-ups) daily. It sounds pretty boss.
But it’s not. The result: shortened and overly-toned pectoral muscles, leading to forward shoulders, impingement and eventually rotator cuff degeneration. Do you like being able to lift your arm overhead? Or fasten your bra? Or value your time too much to go twice a week for 6 weeks to physical therapy? If so, considering cooling it on the arbitrary # of push-ups.
Again, push-ups are not a particularly functional exercise. — not an action that will help keep you injury-free as you maneuver through life’s challenges (picking up kids, loading up a car trunk with heavy bags, etc). Very rarely must you push your body weight equivalent in front of you without using your leg muscles.
3) Overdoing it in general.
This is not an exercise, but a form of exercising: too many reps / too much fatigue / too fast.
Slower and fewer repetitions, with the weights or body weight moving with control through the entire range, honoring your fatigue and switching things up, will build muscle faster with much less chance of injury whether in the gym or in yoga. Think “slow burn” or at least quality over quantity.
A skilled musician might be able to play a song lightening-fast, but their true talent shines when playing slowly, exposing the passion and beauty in the space between the notes.
Honor these guidelines, and your body will thank you.